Mayor Emanuel denies leak on Cain allegations

November 3, 2011 2:39:31 PM PDT
The controversy around Republican presidential contender Herman Cain is not dying down.

Cain and his campaign are blaming Texas Governor Rick Perry's campaign for orchestrating a smear campaign and say they are behind the reports of sexual harassment allegations.

During a series of appearances Thursday on conservative media outlets, Cain repeatedly denied the accusations, saying it will not deter him in the race for the White House. He blames the "inside the Washington Beltway culture" for the intense scrutiny.

The Cain campaign now faces at least three allegations that the former Godfather's Pizza CEO had sexual harassment allegations thrown at him when he headed the National Restaurant Association a decade ago.

In an interview with the conservative activist wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Thursday, Cain said the allegations stem from a Washington culture of "guilty until proven innocent." Still, Cain's camp stands by its accusation that Perry's campaign offered up the story first.

"It makes me sad to see this. It's not good for the party. It's not what this election is about," said Anita Perry, Rick Perry's wife.

In Chicago, a Perry supporter says what is happening to the Cain campaign should not be surprising, especially considering the candidate's evolving answers on sexual harassment.

"Every day that goes by it's like a slow drip...he has changed his story a few times and I think he's just not prepared," said State Rep. Jim Durkin, (R)-82nd District.

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford, a supporter of Mitt Romney, said there was nothing to say about the controversy -- but to communications specialist Harlan Loeb, with the PR firm Edelman, the window is closing on whether Cain can manage this crisis in a way that allows his quest for the presidency to continue.

"His sincerity is on trial right now, and this is his opportunity, in a perverse sense, to show whether and to what extent he's able to convey sincerity," said Loeb.

And, for Mayor Emanuel, the sincerity was clear in his one word answer to allegations in a Washington Times article -- with unnamed sources -- that he was behind the stories about Cain's harassment issues.

"Baseless," the mayor said.

Cain's campaign says $1.2 million has been raised since news of the allegations first surfaced.

One of the women who said Cain sexually harassed her has asked permission from the National Restaurant Association to make a public statement about her experience.

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